22 March 2017

Challenge to Quebec sign laws headed to Court of Appeal — www.cbc.ca

Challenge to Quebec sign laws headed to Court of Appeal — www.cbc.ca



In seeking leave to appeal at Quebec's highest court Friday, O'Brien said that Quebec's sign laws are not just unconstitutional but outdated, as well. 


"In this case, we brought factual evidence about the current demographic situation of French in Quebec," he told reporters in Montreal. 
"Our view is that you cannot interpret [it] as being currently vulnerable. There's no threat of extinction of the French language right now."


30 SEP 15: Niqab position of NDP and Liberals not shared by some Quebec candidates - Montreal - CBC News

Niqab position of NDP and Liberals not shared by some Quebec candidates - Montreal - CBC News

R v NS (SCC 2012): Niqab Rules Balance Religious Freedom and the Right to a Fair Trial - The Centre for Constitutional Studies

R v NS (2012): Niqab Rules Balance Religious Freedom and the Right to a Fair Trial - The Centre for Constitutional Studies



In R v NS,[1] decided on December 20, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on whether a witness could be allowed to wear a niqab[2] for
religious reasons while testifying in a criminal trial. The Court
determined that this issue would be examined on a case-by-case basis.
The following featured court ruling examines the Court’s four-part test
meant to balance the witness’ right to religious freedom (section 2(a)
of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter)) and the accused’s right to a fair trial (sections 7 and 11(d) of the Charter).[3]

If an accommodation is possible, do the salutary effects of accommodating the claimant outweigh the deleterious effects of doing so?[17]



How a snowstorm exposed Quebec's real problem: social malaise - Macleans.ca

How a snowstorm exposed Quebec's real problem: social malaise - Macleans.ca



The issues that led to the shutdown of a Montreal highway that left drivers stranded go beyond mere political dysfunction






21 March 2017

Freedom of religion under the Canadian Charter(s) of (Human) Rights and Freedoms

Larry Miller and the case against the niqab - Macleans.ca



Freedom of religion under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) consists of the freedom to undertake practices and harbour beliefs, having a nexus with religion, in which an individual demonstrates he or she sincerely believes or is sincerely undertaking in order to connect with the divine or as a function of his or her spiritual faith, irrespective of whether a particular practice or belief is required by official religious dogma or is in conformity with the position of religious officials. This understanding is consistent with a personal or subjective understanding of freedom of religion.  As such, a claimant need not show some sort of objective religious obligation, requirement or precept to invoke freedom of religion. It is the religious or spiritual essence of an action, not any mandatory or perceived‑as‑mandatory nature of its observance, that attracts protection.  
The State is in no position to be, nor should it become, the arbiter of religious dogma. Although a court is not qualified to judicially interpret and determine the content of a subjective understanding of a religious requirement, it is qualified to inquire into the sincerity of a claimant’s belief, where sincerity is in fact at issue. Sincerity of belief simply implies an honesty of belief and the court’s role is to ensure that a presently asserted belief is in good faith, neither fictitious nor capricious, and that it is not an artifice. Assessment of sincerity is a question of fact that can be based on criteria including the credibility of a claimant’s testimony, as well as an analysis of whether the alleged belief is consistent with his or her other current religious practices.  
Since the focus of the inquiry is not on what others view the claimant’s religious obligations as being, but what the claimant views these personal religious “obligations” to be, it is inappropriate to require expert opinions. It is also inappropriate for courts rigorously to study and focus on the past practices of claimants in order to determine whether their current beliefs are sincerely held. Because of the vacillating nature of religious belief, a court’s inquiry into sincerity, if anything, should focus not on past practice or past belief but on a person’s belief at the time of the alleged interference with his or her religious freedom.




CCLA (Via The Globe And Mail): When religious freedom should take a back seat to equality rights

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/when-religious-freedom-should-take-a-back-seat-to-equality-rights/article25784108/

In my view, both rights are fundamental for a society to be grounded in respect for human dignity. Indeed, in Canada, both rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – but the Charter, which applies to government action, would not directly apply to a commercial airline.
How far do we go to accommodate a sincerely held religious belief when it comes into conflict with the equality rights of someone else? If all rights are equal and there is no hierarchy, do we figure out these questions on a case-by-case basis? In Canada, decision-makers have ruled against a bed-and-breakfast owner who refused to rent to a gay couple. But some may ask, what about religious freedom? What about the innkeeper’s rights?
Personally, I don’t think that in a public or commercial space the religious beliefs of one person can be used to deny, or relegate (intentionally or not) as inferior, the equality rights of someone else. Religious freedoms are writ large and people are free to believe what they wish, and to act as they wish, short of causing harm to another. Gender segregation can and is upheld in private religious institutions freely attended by individuals – but in public spheres we must be vigilant about upholding the equality rights of all. If we wouldn’t tolerate the refusal to sit beside a racialized person, we shouldn’t tolerate sex discrimination, either.

Challenge of Quebec secession law makes it before the courts after 16-year wait | Toronto Star

Challenge of Quebec secession law makes it before the courts after 16-year wait | Toronto Star



MONTREAL—The long-awaited constitutional challenge of Quebec’s secession law finally found its way before a judge on Monday, nearly 16 years after it was launched.
The provincial law, known as Bill 99, was adopted in 2000 by the Parti Québécois government of the day as a direct response to the federal Clarity Act.
Drafted by the Lucien Bouchard-led PQ, it affirms the legal existence of the Quebec people and its right to self-determination.

13 March 2017

Opinion: Scorn for multiculturalism in Quebec yields troubling results

http://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-scorn-for-multiculturalism-in-quebec-yields-troubling-results


Last week, news broke that the Parti Québécois had quietly tried to block prominent lawyer Tamara Thermitus’s candidacy for the presidency of Quebec’s human rights commission. Unnamed sources suggested that despite her impeccable credentials, her job with the federal government was a liability and, worse, she was suspected of harbouring multiculturalist beliefs.
This bit of backstory should raise more than eyebrows.
It is well known that multiculturalism is verboten among Quebec’s political and chattering classes, regardless of partisan affiliation. However, to have multicult-phobia actually move a political party to reject a qualified candidate (who also happens to be a black woman) should tell us something about how pernicious the current ideology is.

Globe editorial: It’s time for Quebec to kill Bill 62, and stop targeting religious minorities

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/its-time-for-quebec-to-kill-bill-62-and-stop-targeting-religious-minorities/article34073614/


The murder of six Muslim men praying in a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29 has provoked a watershed moment in the thinking of Quebec politicians, intellectuals and the public at large. Where Muslims were once an easy target for nationalist populists and radio shock jocks, now it is not quite so easy to stigmatize them for the sake of votes and ratings.
That’s a start. But there is still a stain on the province – one last official vestige of the fearmongering that flowed from Quebec’s post-9/11 debate over the accommodation of immigrants and religious minorities. That is Bill 62. It needs to die, and now is the moment to kill it.
The mosque attack prompted an unprecedented show of grief and solidarity among Quebeckers of all beliefs. Premier Philippe Couillard spoke emotionally of the “demons” in Quebec society. Nationalist politicians, including Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée, acknowledged the need to tone down their anti-immigrant rhetoric.

William Johnson: What counts as history in Quebec

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/william-johnson-what-counts-as-history-in-Quebec

What these eminences stated in 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada would also state in 1998. But Quebec’s textbook, dated 2009, distorts history and law to legitimate unconditional secession. Recalling Lévesque’s 1980 referendum, the textbook omits the fact that a veto was promised to the rest of Canada. Then, revisiting the 1995 referendum, it ignores the fact that Parizeau intended, with the merest majority, to overthrow the Constitution, even though the question was confusing and, as polls showed, most voters assumed that Quebec would remain in Canada. Then, Stéphane Dion’s Clarity Act of 2000, setting federal conditions for negotiating secession, is discussed with no reference to the Supreme Court’s decision on the conditions for secession. And there are more examples of bias. This is history?

Conservatives, Quebecers most biased, poll finds | Toronto Star


A majority of Conservative voters and people from Quebec — almost six in 10 — have “unfavourable feelings” for at least one religious or ethnic minority group, according to a new poll.
The telephone survey by Forum Research found that, overall, 41 per cent of Canadians feel unfavourable about at least one of the following groups: Muslims, First Nations, South Asians, Asians, Jews and black people.
Regionally, 57 per cent of respondents from Quebec felt unfavourable toward at least one of the groups, followed by 45 per cent from Alberta, 39 per cent from Atlantic Canada, 35 per cent from British Columbia and about one-third from each Ontario, Manitoba/Saskatchewan.

02 March 2017

Bill 60 (Charter of Quebec Values): CCLA Hearings Brief

CCLA’s Opposition to the Quebec Charter of Values: Read our Brief « Canadian Civil Liberties Association



CCLA has submitted a brief to the Quebec National Assembly’s
Committee on Institutions’ as part of its general consultation and
public hearings on Bill 60.  Bill 60, or the Charter affirming the
values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality
between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation
requests, is a deeply troubling law that would infringe basic
rights and cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.  In our
submissions, CCLA argues that the Bill infringes freedom of religion,
freedom of expression and the right to equality and to be free from
discrimination.  CCLA also points out some concerning inconsistencies in
the proposed law which would have a disproportionate impact on
individuals from minority religious groups and, in particular, women
from these groups.  We are urging the Quebec government not to move
forward with the proposal and hope to have an opportunity to address the
Committee in person in their public hearings, which are scheduled to
start in mid-January, 2014.